Coalition For Grassroots Human Rights Defenders Kenya, a group of human rights defenders is now calling for the elimination of barriers that hinder women from public participation and social accountability.
A meeting in Nairobi has revealed that barriers like late communication, timing of the even and inaccessible venues as some of the barriers these women face.
This meeting comes against a backdrop of protests against the Finance Act 2023, that many claim that is hurting the economy.
Rachael Mwikali, Convener of the Coalition for Grassrootss Human Rights Defenders says that it is important that these barriers are eliminated forthwith.
“Most of these meetings are set up in very far flung venues that cannot be accessed by women and people living with disabilities. The timing of these meeting are also not always favourable for women, most of them happen when these women are at home taking care of their children and in casual jobs ,” says Mwikali.
She says that without the elimination of barriers the laws and policies formulated during these public participation, will forever fail to address the issues of women, the youth and the marginalised groups in the community.
Their project is called Intersectional Human Rights Crusade,that seeks to strengthen agency for Gender Equality on Social Accountability, they are implementing through the support of Forum Civ East and Southern Africa .The meeting seeks to rope in religious leaders into the social accountability and social justice conversations.
“Judging from what we have seen,interms of violation of human Rights in Shakahola,and Religious leaders role in the last kenyan elections influence, Religious leaders play a very fundamental role in in the community and they also must respect, promote and defend human rights for all and ask political leaders Accountability when they fail to deliver to the people. They are very powerful in their own rights and cannot be ignored in this conversation of social accountability,” she says.
Esther Mutheu an 18 year old student and a teenage mum from Mathare Slums expressed her challenge with attending the forum. According to Esther, even the one time she attended a public forum, her voice was not heard.
“I have only attended a public forum once and to tell you the truth, the one time that I attended the public forum I did not feel heard,” she narrates.
Florence Anoda a religious leader who attended the two day meeting in Nairobi, says that she leaves the meeting and empowered woman.
“As a woman and a religious leader living in Mathare, I have always shied away from the public participation meetings based on the bad timings and the short notices,” she said.
“This meeting has however changed my mindset and showed me that I have the power to change the bad cultures that are barring women from attending the public participation meetings.”
The project dubbed intersectional human rights crusades is seeking to strengthen agency for gender equality on social accountability in Nairobi and Machakos.
The project is seeking to hold different dialogue forums with religious leaders, youths, movement leaders,Activism inter generational dialogue and also have women inter-sectional barazas.
The inception meetings held in Nairobi were attended by a number of movement leaders from different sectors including National Tax Justice network, Kenya Peasant League, Social Justice Movements, Feminsists Movements and Gender Equality stakeholders among others
Local leaders like village elders and comrades of women who are motorbike riders were among the people present.